Bankai is the second and final upgraded form of a Zanpakutō, the weapons that Shinigamis wield in the Bleach Universe. And to achieve a Bankai, one must be able to call forward and defeat the spirit of their Zanpakutō. It’s an incredibly strenuous task that can take years but once obtained, guarantees new levels of strength for its user and allows a Shinigami to release their Shikai without calling its name.
With Weekly Shōnen announcing the return of the anime powerhouse early last year, fans around the world rejoiced as the 8-year wait was finally over and we now get to see the most anticipated Bankai reveals be animated, along with the characters and great action scenes. So in honour of the last arc, we are going to rank the 10 strongest Bankai in Bleach.
10. Kamishini no Yari (Gin Ichimaru)
Gin Ichimaru was the former captain of the Gotei 13's 3rd Division until he betrayed Soul Society alongside Aizen and Tōsen. His Bankai, the Kamishini no Yari, is a highly complicated weapon with the ability to extend its blade for many miles while remaining strong. However, its true power lies in the speed with which it extends while in the 'Buta' stance, going as fast as hundreds of times the speed of sound while simultaneously reaching up to eight miles.
And, to make matters worse, his blade contains a hidden, fast-acting poison that attacks the enemy and demolishes cells. It later came to light that Gin only pretended to be a villain so he could kill Aizen at the right time, and he nearly accomplished this goal with his Bankai.
9. Daiguren Hyōrinmaru (Tōshirō Hitsugaya)
The Zanpankto of the 10th Division Captain Hitsugaya can create and control both water and ice, and his Bankai allows him to control even larger quantities. Following his last battle with Aizen, Hitsugaya disappears to train in an attempt to bolster himself and his Bankai, as he realised he had not reached the power level required to fully utilise it.
After eighteen months of conditioning, he is finally able to reach his full potential and unlocks Daiguren Hyorinmaru in its fully matured state. This grants him the ability to instantly kill a person via flash freezing as well as several other powers, such as the ability to freeze very large objects that the sword cuts and the ability to regenerate itself (which most Bankai can't do ) using moisture in the air. He also gains dragon wings and a tail made from ice.
8. Konjiki Ashisogi Jizō/Matai Fukuin Shōta (Mayuri Kurotsuchi)
Mayuri Kurotsuchi, the Gotei 13's 12th captain, is a researcher who personifies the stereotype of the mad scientist in that he sees everyone and everything as an object to be researched, including himself, but at least he is on the side of the Soul Society.
His Bankai comes in two varieties: Konjiki Ashisogi Jizo and Matai Fukuin Shota. The former transforms into a massive, purple-skinned baby-like entity that emits a lethal poison gas that only affects his opponents. Mayuri's second Bankai can nullify other Shikai and Bankai by analysing his opponents' combat abilities and sending the data to his Bankai, which creates specific abilities to counter said abilities.
7. Minazuki (Retsu Unohana)
Captain Unohana was a founding member of the Gotei 13, and little is known about her past until the Thousand Blood Year War arc where it is later revealed that she was once the Soul Society's most heinous criminal and the first to use the name Kenpachi. Her Shikai is a massive manta ray with stomach acids that can restore people's health, but her Bankai is the polar opposite.
Minazuki is its name, and when it is released, the blade of Unohana's Zanpakut liquefies into a viscous, blood-like substance that pours out and surrounds her, then takes the form of a shortened katana ready to kill in battle. The liquid is a highly corrosive acid capable of removing the opponent's skin and flesh, and even a physically strong combatant like Kenpachi is reduced to a skeleton during their battle. The liquid is lethal to Unohana, but when combined with her powerful Kaidō, she is able to withstand the effects of her Bankai.
6. Kenpachi Zaraki’s Unnamed Bankai
The animation and introduction of several new Bankais of our favourite characters are one of the main things Bleach fans are looking forward to from the adaptation of the Thousand Year Blood War arc. And at the top of that list is Kenpachi Zaraki. The captain of the 11th division is known as the only Gotei 13 Captain who achieved that rank without knowing the name of his Shikai, let alone achieving his Bankai.
After a battle to the death with the infamous first Kenpachi, Unohana, he finally unlocks his Bankai during the Quincy war. Although the Bankai's name was never revealed in full, when activated, Kenpachi unleashes a massive amount of spiritual power capable of destroying nearby structures and transforms into a devil-like form with red skin, horns, and immense strength. In this form, he is a mindless berserker, and Nozarashi evolves into a giant broken sword (similar to a tall cleaver) that can cut through any object - even at range, which helps compensate for Kenpachi's close-range limitations.
5. Katen Kyōkotsu: Karamatsu Shinjū (Shunsui Kyōraku)
Shunsui Kyoraku is a laid-back and lethargic man who spends his time drinking in bars, napping, and pursuing women. However, following the death of Captain Yamamoto at the hands of Yhwach, Shunsui was quickly promoted to Captain-Commander of the Gotei 13 and captain of the 1st Division.
Many people are surprised by his Bankai because it contradicts his calm, laid-back personality and even the Shikai form of his zanpakutō. Shunsui regards this as his last resort, and only employs it when no allies are within range (so they are affected) and if absolutely necessary. It initially engulfs a large area around him, emitting a depressing aura. The Bankai then proceeds in four stages: The first forces Shunsui and his opponent to share any injuries that affect one another. Black spots appear on his opponent's body in the second stage, causing heavy bleeding. Then, in the third stage, both combatants are submerged in a massive amount of water, drowning the one with less Reiatsu. In the final stage, Shunsui wraps a white thread around his opponent's throat before expanding their head and blowing it up.
4. Kannonbiraki Benihime Aratame (Kisuke Urahara)
Kisuke Urahara is the founder and first President of the S.R.D.I. and a former captain of the 12th Division. After becoming a wanted criminal and fleeing to the Human World, he opened a small convenience store selling Shinigami items, with the help of his employees Tessai Tsukabishi, Jinta Hanakari, and Ururu Tsumugiya.
The former Captain does not reveal his Bankai until nearly the end of the manga, and it is unique in that it is one of the few releases that does not directly boost his offensive power but is instead, used primarily for defence and healing. His Bankai, Kannonbiraki Benihime Aratame, takes the form of a giant woman with black hair braided into a bow on her head and dressed in a revealing red robe. It can restructure any object, living or nonliving, and can be used to effectively cut and dissect a target, or to heal a damaged body (as seen when Urahara restored his damaged eyes). It can also increase strength by restructuring the body's physique to become more powerful, offering an adaptable Bankai with numerous uses.
3. Tensa Zangetsu (Ichigo Kurosaki)
Ichigo Kurosaki, the show's main character and a substitute shinigami, is one of the most powerful characters in the bleach universe. Not only did he gain access to his Shikai in three days (thanks to Kisuke Urahara's training), but he also developed his Bankai faster than many other experienced Shinigami. To top it all off, he gained the ability to transform into a hollow, which increased his power even more.
When Ichigo invokes his first Bankai, his sword shrinks but gains strength, speed, and durability as it transforms into a katana with a completely black blade and a firm and stylized profile. Ichigo's clothes change along with the transformation of his Zanpakutō, and he is always dressed in the long black coat that also wears the materialised form of Zangetsu. His other abilities include hyper-fast combat, increased strength, improved Getsuga Tensho, and increased spiritual power. His second Bankai's abilities were only disclosed during the fight against Yhwach, revealing its true power as the ability to cut through fate.
2. Shirafude Ichimonji (ichibē hyōsube)
Ichibē Hyōsube is the Leader of the Zero Division and the "Monk Who Calls the Real Name" as he was the person who first picked the names for everything in Soul Society, including Zanpakutō, Shikai, and Bankai. Ichibē became the first Shinigami whose Zanpakutō evolved into a higher form at some point in the past and he called it Shinuchi.
He has an innate ability to figure out what everyone's true name is. Shirafude, his Bankai shaped like a massive calligraphy brush, alters the properties of anyone he has previously struck with his ink (which comes from his Shikai) based on Ichibē's commands. It also grants him the ability to self-reconstruct. By stealing a bit of power from someone who says his name, Ichibē can completely restore his body to its former state and recreate every piece of his body that was out of place.
1. Zanka no Tachi (Genryūsai Shigekuni Yamamoto)
Genrysai Shigekuni Yamamoto was the captain of the Gotei 13's 1st Division, the Captain-Commander of the Gotei 13, and the longest-serving captain. Despite his old and frail appearance, he is very muscular and well-defined, and in his prime, was one of the physically strongest shinigami in soul society history.
Yamamoto's Zanpakutō, Ryūjin Jakka, is the oldest and most powerful fire type in the Soul Society, with more offensive power than any other Zanpakutō. The Bankai is also the most powerful of the Gotei 13 members. When the blade is released, the flames within it burn anything it cuts out of existence, as well as depleting the moisture in an entire area, causing the air and water to dry up. Unohana herself mentions that if used for an extended period inside the Seireitei, its power could easily destroy all of the Gotei 13. Furthermore, Yamamoto's own body reaches the same temperatures, incinerating enemies who come into contact with him.
The Bleach series has a wide variety of characters and weapons. And with the tons of Bankais finally getting animated this arc, we are particularly excited and looking forward to the rest of the show. We'd love to hear your thoughts on who’s Zanpakutō you think should be on this list! So please don’t forget to drop a comment and share this article with your friends.